How to Build Your Company Brand by Hiring for Culture and Engagement

It’s estimated that there will be 20,000 job openings for audiologists in the U.S. by 2028. Unfortunately, there are not enough licensed professionals in the field, audiology programs in the U.S., or students in those programs to keep up with accelerating demand. In fact, there may be more audiologists retiring from the profession over the next decade than entering it.

When you take this dearth of providers and factor in the cost of hiring new employees (an average of $4,000+ per hire), the cost of employee churn (fees paid, human capital involved with the onboarding process, downtime to train), and the damage done to your staff morale and patients’ perception of your practice, the price of failure becomes quite clear.

Ultimately, for your business to be successful, you need to be competitive in identifying, attracting, and hiring top talent. If you don’t hire the best people, your competitors will—it’s a zero-sum game. The upside is that when you get it right and hire the best, you’ll be in a great position to develop the culture you need to take your practice to the next level and become an “Employer of Choice” in the hearing healthcare field.

Hiring for Attitude & Culture

Your “brand” is who you are. It’s reflected to the outside world through the prism of your practice culture. It’s how your community, patients, employees, and competitors perceive you. For better or worse, it’s best reflected by the team you’ve assembled. The good news is that this is all within your control. Should you desire a different culture, a better brand, you can create it. And you do that by hiring the right people.

To define “the right people” in the context of hiring, we should start by reviewing the difference between skills and traits: skills are relatively easy to teach or develop while traits are very difficult to teach or develop. Now consider how you vet and weigh skills and traits when making hiring decisions. Why are skills so important to you and could traits be even more important? Remember: the traits of your employees will rarely change, the collection of traits across your entire staff is your culture, and your culture is what defines your brand.

Researcher Mark Murphy’s three-year “Hiring for Attitude” study of 20,000 new hires at over 300 organizations showed that most “misses” (bad hires) are not due to issues of technical competence (lacking skills), but rather issues around attitude, attributes, and emotional intelligence (traits). Of the 9,200 new hires that failed, the vast majority—81 percent—failed because they didn’t have the right traits for the job, resulting in poor cultural alignment to the organization.

This shouldn’t be a surprise since skills are relatively easy to vet. Did you ever hire an audiologist who didn’t work out? Did they have the skills for the job? Or was it something else that led to their failure—attitude, work ethic, emotional intelligence (EQ)? You need to identify which traits are most important to your organization’s culture and then vet for them during the interview process.

This is my own personal list (feel free to make it yours!):

  • Work ethic
  • Coachability
  • Empathy (EQ)
  • Respect
  • Self-awareness (EQ)
  • Positivity
  • Passion
  • Energy

It’s not always easy to resist the urge to overvalue skills due to cognitive biases at play. Those same biases can also cause us to minimize the importance of traits when we make hiring decisions. Have you ever described your ideal candidate to a recruiter as someone who can “hit the ground running” because they “have all the required skills” or, one of my favorites, “requires little supervision because I don’t have time to manage them?

I’ve heard these kinds of statements a lot in my 20+ years as a professional recruiter. And when I do, I know that it says far more about the hiring manager and the organization’s culture than about the candidate they’re seeking. If you have a sound grasp of what’s teachable and are willing to teach it, you’ll stand a much greater chance of hiring the right people and building your best culture. While it may seem like an arduous task to build skills in an employee, remember that it’s almost impossible to build or change traits, attributes, or attitudes.

Building & Maintaining Your Culture

As an owner or practice manager, don’t forget that you play a very important role in building and maintaining your desired workplace culture—you’re required to lead! Be mindful of how you carry yourself and how you interact with your staff and patients. All of your actions and behaviors matter. These are the behaviors that effective leaders exhibit:

  • Exude unerring positivity
  • Communicate with utmost clarity
  • Possess a clear vision and work tirelessly to gain alignment to that vision
  • Listen with compassion and empathy
  • Build trusting relationships with words and actions
  • Express gratitude

You should intentionally engage in these actions, behaviors, and attitudes every day. Great leadership is not accidental!

Becoming and ‘Employer of Choice’

You’ve hired all the right people, they’re all highly engaged, and finally, you have the culture you’ve always wanted and known you deserved. Congratulations! All that’s left to do is maintain the culture you’ve worked so hard to build and solidify yourself as an “Employer of Choice.”

The best way to do this is to first, identify your “brand champions” (i.e., the best of the best, the most engaged of all the engaged). They’re easy to find. Simply look for employees who:

  1. genuinely enjoy their job/don’t just do it for the money,
  2. look for opportunities to mentor, and
  3. demonstrate the behaviors of leaders (see above)

Second, give them additional responsibilities! Any good leader loves a good challenge. When you give these employees opportunities to mentor, encourage them to evangelize your practice through social media, community groups, and professional associations, and hold them accountable, they will value themselves even more, and then they will thrive.

Conclusion

Creating a great culture, one that emphasizes growth and development, will demonstrate your organization’s value to candidates. When you offer opportunities to learn and grow, when you can site real-life examples of employee development, and when you can identify an evangelist within your organization who can speak to your culture of growth, you will then be in a great position to attract additional, like-minded employees.

Practices that utilize Consult’s industry-leading human resources consulting and staffing solutions see incremental increases in revenue and the highest levels of measurable engagement. That’s because our experienced recruiters vet candidates for the highest skill level as well as aligned cultural fit.

About the Author

Ernie Paolini is responsible for Human Resources and Recruiting Services at Consult YHN. He has more than 20 years of experience in building and managing technology-driven HR and recruitment organizations. His areas of expertise include behavioral interviewing, employee relations, compliance, and onboarding.

Are You Engaged…To Your Business?

Did you know that seven of the ten most popular days to get engaged all fall in December? Perhaps not surprising given the pandemic’s impact on practically everything in our lives, the traditional engagement season (Thanksgiving to New Year’s) looked a little different last year. In fact, Valentine’s Day dethroned Christmas as the most popular day to pop the question in 2020 (most likely because it took place pre-COVID).

So, what does this mean to your business? Did you get engaged there as well? Do you have plans or are you alone? Are you feeling stressed or uncommitted? For the unattached or unengaged, the future can seem lonely. That’s why below, we outline the steps you can take to get engaged, plan the perfect spring wedding, then ultimately marry your plan for success!

Step 1: Meet someone.

Are you lonely? Can you meaningfully discuss your profit and loss statement (P&L) with your employee(s)? Office “romances” don’t work – find someone outside of your practice. A trusted business advisor like your Consult Account Manager brings perspective from the industry, shares what similar practices are doing right (and wrong), and minimizes the trial-and-error method of running a business. This was particularly true during the COVID crisis. Many of our members have reported that the sense of belonging and knowing someone cared—about them, their staff, and their business—were some of the most appreciated services of 2020. Talking to yourself in the mirror, brainstorming ideas, and trying to convince yourself everything was going to be “ok” probably did little to actually relieve any of the loneliness or confusion you may have been feeling. Fortunately, you don’t need to be alone.

Step 2: Pick out your ring.

A clear sign that you’re getting engaged soon is the conversation about what the ring will look like – the shape, the style, the size, and, of course, the price tag? Have you picked out your business’ “ring” yet? Think about the following:
  • Will you sell more private hearing aids or participate in more third-party administrator plans?
  • Are you expanding your business or selling it?
  • Do you have enough space?
  • Are you fully staffed?
  • Do you have the right employees in the right positions?
  • Do you want to be a low-cost/low-value or high-cost/high-value provider or emphasize diagnostic care?
  • Do you have a revenue goal for 2021, 2022, 2023, and beyond?
  • If someone came in and offered to buy your practice tomorrow, do you have a price in mind?
Asking yourself these questions will help you define the kind of business you have, the kind you want to run, and what you want its future to look like.

Step 3: Make a plan.

Did you look at your calendar on February 13th and realize you didn’t have plans for Valentine’s Day? Do you operate your business each day without plans for the next day? Despite the many industry changes, too many practice owners fail to adjust accordingly. For example:
  • Have you seen your marketing become less effective? Make plans to adjust your marketing budget and strategy to focus on more effective messaging and mediums.
  • Tired of shifting piles of paper charts off your desk? Make plans to convert to a practice management system (PMS).
Don’t just sit in your office hoping tomorrow will look different—decide to actually do something today! Define a goal then list out the steps required to make it a reality. Resolve that the stress of doing nothing can only be ameliorated by acting. Why sit idle watching other businesses marry their plans for success? Set a date and start planning!

Step 4: Commit.

An engagement is a commitment, so treat it accordingly. Define your business lifecycle. Make plans to attain any goals you set. Work with someone outside the business but commit to the people in your business as well. Are they being developed? Are they reaching their goals? Review your business regularly—you should study your financials monthly, not just at tax time. Spend time understanding the relationship with your business and make it work. Successful marriages don’t just happen—they take a continuous, concerted effort.

Don’t wait for the next engagement season—
get engaged today!

About the Author

Scott Berger joined Consult YHN in 2010 and currently serves as our Regional Sales Manager - Inside Sales/Hospital. Previously, he spent nine years leading our Sales Analytics department. Scott holds an MBA in finance from Hofstra University and has several years of experience working in operations, analytics, and supply chain in the medical device industry. He is passionate about working directly with customers in an entrepreneurial setting.

Four Fundamentals for Building a High-Performing Team

Managing an effective team requires several competencies and begins with the core values of the leader. These values set the tone for what’s needed to perform at a high level. Leaders must establish expectations from the beginning with their team. It’s key for you to outline what’s expected of your team and how you plan to hold them accountable.
As you begin to build your team, finding out what motivates them and which levers to pull will be key to driving higher performance. As a leader, you need to provide your team clear direction, a roadmap, and support and ensure they understand their growth potential. As a leader, there are four building blocks to consider in building and managing a high-performing team:

1.Culture

Culture is something that you can’t always see, but you can feel it. It’s often in the intangibles, the little things. Building a culture starts with building a TEAM, itself. It’s important to create an environment where everyone can thrive and be collaborative. Establish opportunities for your team to work together and understand each other’s roles right off the bat. These projects will help galvanize the group. Part of a performance culture is setting up a winning mentality. Confidence breeds success, and the more wins your team can attain, the faster you create a culture of winning. This also allows employees to gain ownership over their success. No matter the field of work, everyone wants to be part of a winning team and have ownership in it. So, establish some easy wins for your team!

2. Accountability

Accountability, like culture, must be instituted from the outset. Accountability is being consistent—consistent in your actions and your words. Lead by example – do what you say you’re going to do, and your team will, too. Setting clear and attainable goals is equally important to maintain and cultivate the buy-in culture you are trying to establish. Furthermore, when you set expectations, it is imperative to assess what you expect and provide timely feedback. This should be done through regular one-on-one meetings as well as throughout the day. Be sure to provide positive feedback on the activities your team is doing well. This will lend more weight when you must focus on areas of improvement – which is often more difficult to deliver, but important in terms of development and growth.

3. Motivation

Finding out what makes each of your team members tick is critical to creating a high-performing environment. As a leader, you will be part cheerleader, part coach, and even sometimes part psychologist. Finding out what motivates each individual is how you will unlock a higher level of performance from your group. Utilize one-on-one meetings to engage and learn more about your colleagues. Motivation can come in many forms, whether it is professional advancement, monetary gain, or the love of competition. As a sales manager, I create excitement and healthy competition amongst the group. You must give your team a reason to come to work, beyond the paycheck, if you want to see their performance increase.

4. Development

Developing your employee’s skillsets so they can perform the best in their current role and challenging them with stretch assignments is a major piece of team building. As a leader or coach, it’s important to look at each day as an improvement opportunity for yourself and your team. Identifying potential leaders within a team is key to an organization sustaining a competitive edge. You cultivate these individuals by delegating tasks, creating open forums for ideas, and communicating your vision of a collaborative structure. Challenge your employees, provide them an opportunity to step up and take on leadership responsibilities. Not only does this reinforce your confidence in them, but it also gives them a sense of what a leadership role entails. The open forum provides a space where each of your employees have a voice and can be heard. It also allows them to take ownership in the team’s endeavors and/or demonstrate leadership amongst their peers.

Everyone will have different ways to lead a team, but these four core tenets transcend across industries. Ultimately, communicating a clear vision is paramount to gaining buy-in. You need everyone pulling the rope in the same direction to achieve an exceptional level of performance. 

For help building and developing a high-performing team, trust Consult YHN’s industry-leading HR & Recruiting Solutions. Talk to your Account Manager or contact Recruiting@ConsultYHN.com today!

About the Author

Robert Strother has been the Inside Sales Director at Consult YHN since 2016 and has over 10 years of sales leadership experience. In that time, he has led high performing sales teams across an array of industries and developed multiple future sales leaders.

Are You Empowering Your Front Office to Drive Revenue? Three Questions to Ask Yourself!

The Front Office Professional (FOP) is essential to an effective and efficient hearing healthcare office. Both in-person and over the phone, FOPs are key in establishing rapport with patients, creating a positive first impression, and helping to drive opportunities.
 
Many practice owners overlook that their front office staff can and should do more than answer phones and schedule appointments—they should help drive revenue every day.

Below are three questions to determine if you’re empowering your Front Office Professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to be a major player in the success of your business:

QUESTION #1: Does your FOP believe in the power of the Third Party and is she/he strongly encouraging patients to bring a loved one to appointments?

You’re most likely aware of the benefits connected to having a trusted family member or friend accompany patients to their appointments, including having a familiar voice during their evaluation and the added case history acquired.

As a Consult YHN member, you also know that increasing your practice’s Third Party rate results in greater patient satisfaction, a reduction in Tested Not Sold patients, and lower return rates. In some practices, it may also increase the closure rate by as much as 10-20 percent.

But is your FOP aware of these benefits? Can your FOP confidently convey to patients the value of having a significant other present for evaluations? To make this point more relatable, ask your FOP how long he/she spent with the doctor the last time he/she was sick? No one has ever answered an hour or more (the typical length of a hearing aid evaluation appointment)!

Source: The Hearing Review

It’s important to demonstrate that the companion is there for support and not because the patient can’t make their own decision. Studies show that 40-80 percent of what patients hear in a doctor’s office is forgotten, regardless of age. So, having two sets of ears is better than one, especially since one of those sets may be struggling to hear.

Lastly, let’s not overlook the potential referral opportunities: many active couples have combined friends and their own individual social networks. Your practice can potentially test the Third Party, or even seek recommendations from both parties, and grow your database – but only if your FOP is consistently emphasizing the need for a companion!

QUESTION #2: Does your Front Office believe that Calling is Caring?

What separates your practice from the competition is the world-class service you provide. The businesses that are most successful in retaining current patients and attracting new ones use a staff member (Patient Communication Specialist) or a service (Your Patient Contact Center) dedicated to making outbound calls to current patients and prospects. This function protects the practice’s most valuable patient resource—its database—and helps fill the schedule with opportunities. We know that 43 percent of patients buy their next set of aids from someone else. That’s why consistently contacting existing patients is vital to keeping your relationships warm and your practice top-of-mind.

However, this is the aspect of the job that more traditional front office employees (receptionists, schedulers) are not prepared for when they enter the hearing healthcare industry. Not only do a successful FOPs need to have computer, filing, customer service, and organization skills, but they also need to own the schedule, manage the provider’s time proactively, and take responsibility to create and enhance the patient experience. We advise FOPs to develop relationships with callers before they come to the office and continue to foster that connection once they become a patient. This way, a call from your practice isn’t an intrusion, but rather a chance to ensure continued patient satisfaction.

Source: Audiology Online

The recommended schedule and mix of patient contact methods may push some FOPs outside their comfort zone. To help reduce anxieties and increase skills and efficiencies, Consult conducts weekly tele-trainings with FOPs from practices across the country. During these trainings participants will learn about why these calls are so important and best practices for scripting to get the greatest results. They will also be encouraged to share their challenges and success stories, allowing them to reap the rewards of being part of a network of likeminded businesses.

QUESTION #3: Does your FOP know the value of each call generated by your marketing initiatives?

Based on the data that we have collected from our Associates, on average, each scheduled opportunity appointment is worth approximately $1,200 in profit for your practice. But how can FOPs understand the significance of each incoming phone call if practice owners don’t share this kind of information with them? Once they understand the value of each incoming call, they should be more motivated to improve their call conversion ratio. A great way to do so is to have them listen to recordings of how they have handled incoming calls. No one enjoys the sound of their own voice, but recording and replaying phone calls are one the best ways to improve the caller experience. A trained ear can easily identify if an FOP is unclear about information or unable to answer the caller’s questions. If you don’t have call tracking/recording in place, Consult’s training team will perform secret shopper calls. We can determine what training and guidance is needed, for example, properly scheduling appointment types, discussing the importance of the Third Party, or overusing technical terms and abbreviations (jargon) that the patient doesn’t understand.

Source: Harvard Business Review

Consult’s virtual Employee Development Program (EDP) workshops should be an essential component in your staff’s development plan. These online training events focus on building and developing your team’s skillset so they can actively contribute to driving opportunities and enhancing the patient experience.

Start empowering your front office staff today! Talk to your Account Manager to learn more about our EDP workshops and weekly tele-trainings!

About the Author

Miki Follin has been an Assistant Account Manager with the West Team at Consult YHN since October 2016. Miki brings retail store management, training, and customer service experience from her years with CVS/Pharmacy and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. When not helping Front Office staff learn and develop, you can find her cheering on Arizona’s sports teams, enjoying the sunshine!

Getting it Right: Hiring for Culture and Employee Engagement in a Post COVID World

While today’s unemployment rate, due to the ongoing pandemic, is significantly higher than it was three months ago, it is sure to fall as the economy comes back and small businesses work to restore payroll and headcount in order to conform to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness parameters. Rest assured there will, once again, be more job openings than available candidates. And the cost of hiring will continue to rise as the candidate talent pool shrinks.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it now costs over $4,000 to hire and onboard a single employee. When you consider the additional cost of employee churn (fees, onboarding, downtime, training, morale, etc.) it becomes easy to see that to have, and maintain, a successful business, you need to be competitive in your quest for hiring top talent (if you don’t hire the best, your competition surely will). COVID-19 has moved the goalposts, but the rules of the game remain the same.

If you received a PPP loan then you may need to hire staff quickly in order to restore payroll and headcount by December 31, 2020. Resist the temptation bring in additional staff to, merely, fill empty seats. If your PPP loan is not entirely forgiven then you are left with, at worst, a low interest loan that you have plenty of time to pay back. Careless hiring decisions in the service of getting 100 percent loan forgiveness should be avoided. As hard as it may be in these uncertain times, you should do your best to adhere to sound business strategies. Especially when it comes to hiring.

A good place to start when building a plan for hiring is with your culture. It’s “who you are.” It’s how your community, your customers, your employees, and your competitors perceive you. And it does not happen by accident. It’s best reflected by the team that you’ve assembled; for better or for worse. Think about your culture and whether it’s the one that you want? Now, think about what you have and think about controlling it.

The first step in creating the right culture is hiring the right people.

Many of us first consider an applicant’s skills when hiring. That makes perfect sense…or does it? There are biases at play when we make decisions. Confirmation bias and the “Halo Effect” can impact how we value skills and traits. And when we overvalue strong skills and undervalue troublesome traits, we could be setting ourselves up for failure (a bad hire).

A recent study on “Hiring for Attitude” suggests that most new hires fail NOT because of technical competence (skills), but because of other factors related to emotional intelligence, work ethic, coachability, self-motivation, and temperament. Remember that skills are relatively easy to develop while traits, attitudes, and attributes are not. And traits, attitudes, and attributes are what contribute to your culture—for better or worse.

When vetting a candidate for hire, make sure you’re looking at the following traits which are predictors for high levels of Emotional Intelligence (EQ):

During interviews, ask candidates a question relating to conflict resolution (for example: Can you tell me about a time that you had a disagreement with a co-worker and how you resolved it?) and then consider the following:

  • Did they know what they did wrong (self-awareness)?
  • Did they control their emotions/anger (self-regulation)?
  • Did they really understand the other side (empathy)?
  • Why did they seek to resolve the conflict? Did they engage for the right reasons?
  • Did they exhibit a certain social grace in solving the issue? Were they mindful of the outcome or social cost?

This exercise will give you a strong indication of the candidate’s EQ, covering many of the most important traits that contribute to a great culture. As you build your team around these traits, you’ll be rewarded with the culture that you deserve. The result: you become an “employer of choice” and have “brand champions” who will help curate your culture because:

  • They enjoy their job and don’t merely do it for the money
  • They look for opportunities to mentor
  • They demonstrate the behaviors of leaders
Creating a culture of growth and development is a great way to demonstrate your organization’s value to candidates. When you offer opportunities to learn and grow and can speak to the policies and procedures that you have in place to encourage growth, can offer examples, or, better yet, identify an evangelist within your organization who can speak to your culture of growth, you’ll be in a great position to attract like-minded employees.

A key thing to keep in mind as you evaluate or create your ideal culture is that the ideal work environment is one built on respectfulness, transparency, and fairness. And always remember: while people may ultimately come to work for you because of money, they will stay—or leave—because of your culture.

Consult YHN’s experienced recruiters can help you attract, vet, and develop a team that will define the company culture you’ve always strived for. Talk to your Account Manager today or contact our Recruiting Department at recruiting@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Ernie Paolini is responsible for Human Resources and Recruiting Services at Consult YHN. He has more than 20 years of experience in building and managing technology-driven HR and recruitment organizations. His areas of expertise include behavioral interviewing, employee relations, compliance, and onboarding.